Napoles ready to tell all

7
 Justice Secretary Leila de Lima briefs reporters on her meeting with Janet Lim Napoles. PHOTO BY RUY L. MARTINEZ

Justice Secretary Leila de Lima briefs reporters on her meeting with Janet Lim Napoles. PHOTO BY RUY L. MARTINEZ

She gave nothing but evasive answers when she was grilled by senators in November last year, but this time, Janet Lim Napoles, the alleged brains of the pork barrel scam, is ready to tell all, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said.

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De Lima made the disclosure after a five-hour huddle with Napoles at the Ospital ng Makati (OsMak) on Tuesday.

In a news briefing, the Justice chief said threats may have driven Napoles to decide to break her silence. She added that the businesswoman and members of her family have received the death threats to stop her from revealing details about the misuse of the pork barrel of lawmakers.

“She realizes that the more she keeps silent, and does not say anything, the more she is at risk,” de Lima said.

She admitted that the Department of Justice (DOJ) can “squeeze” more information from Napoles that should boost the plunder and graft complaints against several lawmakers and their staff and other personalities.

According to the Justice chief, Napoles sought an audience with her two weeks ago, but it was only on Monday night when she agreed to meet the businesswoman who was set to undergo surgery last night to remove a cyst in her uterus.

“I am confirming the fact that I visited Mrs. Napoles last night at OsMak, and this is because of her request starting two weeks ago,” de Lima told reporters.

She said Napoles signified her intention to talk through an emissary.

“At first I did not oblige. She sent an emissary, requesting that we talk. I told her that I will only be allowed to talk to her on the condition that she will tell all, that she should be truthful, and she will tell everything,” according to the Justice chief.

“She agreed with the conditions so I agreed to see her. She was actually pleading that we talk even before the Holy Week,” she said.

According to de Lima, Napoles wanted to become a state witness but the DOJ
is yet to “review and evaluate” the businesswoman’s request.

Their discussion on Monday that stretched until early dawn was put on paper, however. Napoles later signed her written testimony, which according to de Lima, contained more details about the pork barrel scam.

“There are more details, more information from Mrs. Napoles, but not everything. Mrs. Napoles appears to know these things. But I cannot share with you the details,” de Lima said in a news briefing.

She admitted that Senators Ramon “Bong” Revilla, Jr., Juan Ponce Enrile, and Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada were tagged in the statement made by Napoles.

According to de Lima, Napoles showed documentary evidence that will provide valuable information and may boost the plunder case filed against several respondents, among them Revilla, Enrile and Estrada.

It was not clear whether Napoles implicated more senators in the pork barrel scam during her meeting with de Lima.

The Justice chief, however, clarified that there is no deal yet accepting Napoles as a state witness.

“There is no commitment to make her a state witness. My only commitment is that we will study [her offer]very seriously and exhaustively so we will know what steps to take and if she can be accepted as a state witness,” de Lima said.

The lawyer of Napoles, Bruce Rivera, confirmed that his client had decided to tell all that she knows about the pork barrel fund scam and that she is not really after becoming a state witness.

“She talked to Secretary de Lima without that in mind. Maybe she is just afraid of her sickness,” Rivera told reporters.

He also admitted arranging the meeting between the two women.

“The meeting was just a conversation and her [Napoles] statement was taken,” he said.

“There was an affidavit, as a lawyer I can’t divulge the content because I was the one who assisted her in executing the affidavit so I can’t tell you, until my principal tells me to do so,” Rivera added.

He said Napoles was happy after meeting with de Lima.

“She has been trying to talk to her for the longest time and she was given the opportunity to talk to her,” Rivera added.

Injustice
But even if there is no decision yet to admit Napoles into the government’s Witness Protection Program (WPP) , some lawmakers believe that making her a state witness would be an injustice.

House Deputy Minority Leader Neri Colmenares of Bayan Muna party-list, House Deputy Majority Leader Sherwin Tugna of Citizens’ Battle Against Corruption party-list, as well as Reps. Rodel Batocabe of Ako Bicol party-list, Terry Ridon of Kabataan party-list, Frednil Castro of Capiz and Ibarra Gutierrez of Akbayan party-list said they will oppose any move by the Department of Justice to admit Napoles into the WPP.

“We will oppose this move, considering that Janet Napoles is one of the main culprits in the pork barrel scam. This would be a clear travesty of justice. She should be punished because of her crimes against the people,” Colmenares stressed.

Napoles is under hospital arrest for serious illegal detention. The complaint was filed by her cousin and former employee, Benhur Luy.

Luy pointed to Napoles as the architect of the scheme wherein lawmakers funneled part of their priority development assistance fund (PDAF) to fake non-government organizations or foundations. Many of these groups were founded or controlled by Napoles.

“The Aquino administration should not make Napoles a state witness because it would seem that there was already a quid pro quo between them,” Colmenares said.

Tugna and Batocabe agreed, noting that Napoles’s entry to the prosecution team would do more harm than good.

“It would be hard for the prosecution to have her as a state witness because of what has been said about her by other whistleblowers such as Luy and Ruby Tuason, among others.

A person is qualified as a state witness if there is no other direct evidence against the other accused except the testimony of the accused applying to be a state witness and the accused does not appear to be the most guilty. Being involved in the helmet and fertilizer fund scams, she will fail in such a requirement,” Tugna said.

“[Justice] Secretary [Leila] de Lima did the right thing by not committing to take Napoles as state witness. Otherwise, there will be a cacophony of contradicting testimonies,” Batocabe said.

“The basic requirement for a state witness is to be not the most guilty. Clearly, she [Napoles] is the most guilty as she was the principal conspirator together with other public officials. Without her, the plunder would not have been completed,” Ridon said
Castro and Gutierrez believed that Napoles’s testimony would only be corroborative.

“There is no urgent necessity to admit Napoles as a state witness because there are already numerous [pieces of]evidence, both testimonial and documentary, which are already in the disposition of the court,” Castro told reporters.

Rep. Walden Bello of Akbayan and Rep. Antonio Tinio of Alliance of Concerned Teachers also believed that Napoles should be tried. “She is the principal in the case, not the accessory. The government’s case could be jeopardized [with her as state witness]. It would turn the whole thing into a circus,” Bello stressed.

“It would be an utter travesty of justice if she is admitted as a state witness. Absolutely, she should have no immunity [from charges],” Tinio said.

But to other legislators, the testimony of Napoles will be vital to the case.

“Napoles’ full disclosure will be the final nail to the coffin in the pork barrel issue. If she becomes a state witness, she can provide a first-hand account of the whole scam. Her turning as a state witness instead of delaying the resolution of the cause would expedite things,” Rep. Elpidio Barzaga of Dasmariñas, chairman of the House Committee on Games and Amusements, said.

“If Napoles will tell all, why not [make her a state witness]? To my mind, she is not the most guilty. She was just used by those who abused the PDAF. It is judgment time for all those who are involved in the scam,” Rep. Silvestre Bello 3rd of 1-BAP party-list, who served as Justice secretary during the Arroyo administration, said in a text message.

With Llanesca T. Panti

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7 Comments

  1. jonathan hirro on

    if all that are suspects now on this pork barrel issue turn state witness, that would become the best zarsuela ever. imagine taking all of them to court and watch them point fingers at each other. this i will suggest though. since plunder is a non bailable offense, let’s start herding all these suspects now and put them in jail. there is so much “fat” involve here that putting them in jail in the thick of summer might do us all good. i am sure in a week or two, they will all start singing to the right tune.

  2. I was dreaming and praying for this day to come, for a courageous President to combat and eradicate this massive corruption making the Philippines the sick man in Asia. I hope the President success in his campaign against this menace. These scammers are lucky because, this happens in a democratic country ,if this happened in communist country like China, once convicted, the punishment is death. Most of these legislators will spend time in jail, and I hope that the government will then confiscate all their ill gotten wealth. Most, if not all of them are catholic Christians, when they go for reconciliation, their confessor should advise them to return all their ill gotten wealth, a condition for their forgiveness, and the ill gotten wealth, be distributed to the poor. I further hope, that the next president will not be a sympathizer of these scammers, when convicted, because the country will then be back to square one, for they might all be pardoned.

  3. If she tells all and return the money then probably the government can make a deal with her by reducing her sentence.

  4. Antonio Javier Belzunce on

    It is high time that detailed activities of corruption here in the Philippines are exposed and based on the behavioral trend here, payback by this exposed group is to exposed other groups that are also corrupt. Since the Corona issue, there has been a change in the political scene here of political counter actions exposing corruption. Just imagine that the previous President is incarcerated non bail able, the Chief Justice was sacked, now the ex Senate president Enrile and other Senators and Congressmen are implicated in a massive corruption scam and is now being charged. There is truly justice in the eyes of God when you think about Senator Enrile. How greedy can a man get at his age to be caught involved in a scam like this. He should be lowering involvement to retire at his age but money addiction I guess have contaminated him so much. These people have luxurious life and they still want more of it even at his age. His main punishment will be his disappointment being a failure when his life ends, which is sooner than most because of his age, and his reflection of life will reflect his ending failure of greediness and selfishness. Let him ask forgiveness to the Lord but I know how fair and just God is. His exposure is an act of God. You have to pity him and his family of what they have to face with from here on.

  5. So janet will want to be a state witness, ruby wants to be a state witness, ben hur ley wants to be a state witness, reyes will want to be a state witness, i wonder when the 3 senators will want to be state witnesses. Wow lets get them all as state witnesses & we will have all the information about exactly how much was stolen & who had what but no one will be punnished for it. I wonder how many state witnesses in this case do we need. Its becoming a joke again as is usual when we have cases like this. I dont know if it upsets other people but i know it makes me very angry with the system here.

  6. a woman without recognizable education “manipulating 3 senators”. Nonsense!!! It is the other way around. Those 3 senators and others used Napoles as a bouncing board. Of course Napoles is just as guilty as the ‘manipulating politicians. But
    Who has the power to control of the distribution of PDAF money? The politicians!
    Who has the power to investigate the legitimacy of the PDAF recipient…the politician!
    Who knows that there is pork barrel money allocated to senators and politicians ones elected …. these politicians!
    Who has the ambition to be politician for the money… the ones who are now in the grinders.
    Therefore , these cockroaches premeditated their action by their ambition of being elected, control a huge amount of pork barrel , planned and connive with the pork queen to ensure that whatever comes out of the PDAF , a huge portion of it goes back to them.
    Ambition>knowledge>premeditation= maximum sentence

  7. It seems familiar unless you know of the biggest drug dealer who got out of the joint after becoming a whitleblower among his cronies. Mr. Untouchable – Nicky Barnes who headed his own gang just like Janet N. drowning from the ill gotten wealth. Daughter supposedly lived in the Ritz Carlton while going to school at an expensive school of design FIDM. Until one day they turncoat as whistleblower of the century and gets away with because they have bigger fish to fry! This is where it justifies the end and everyone wins!